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Four lessons for communicators from the Geneva Health Forum

Geneva is where diplomacy, policy and health meet. And nowhere is this more true than at the Geneva Health Forum, which convened earlier this month to reinvent global health in these times of global change, from the pandemic to climate change and now the war in Ukraine.

The Infinity Communications team was there to listen, learn and engage in these critical conversations that will shape our global health future. Here are our four key takeaways from the Forum for communicators.

1. Co-create with the real influencers: communities

We heard it loud and clear at the Forum: communities are the first influencers of change. Co-create your campaigns with them. Get communities involved early and often so that your content responds to their realities and their needs. Amplify the voices of the health workers, patients, innovators, advocates and activists who are at the frontlines. Their stories and experiences are often more memorable and impactful than science or data can be on their own.

2. Make the financial case for health

The billions spent on the global Covid response and recovery have shown that ensuring good health isn’t just a human right, it’s a vital investment. And as several speakers underlined at the Forum, now people the world over know it…personally. As communicators, we can leverage this shared experience to help drive support for the investments in health that everyone, everywhere needs. We can’t afford to let “pandemic fatigue” win. We’ve got to keep reminding people about how much is at stake, and the impact that investments in health can have.

3. Learn to fight #FakeNews and misinformation

Health campaigns for generations have dealt with misinformation, but never on the scale seen during the pandemic. Covid-19 misinformation has been so pervasive that the World Health Organization has declared a parallel “infodemic.” Climate change misinformation is also pervasive, and as we start communicating across the health and environmental sectors, communicators have a serious responsibility: speaking for truth, science and reason.

4. Help turn knowledge into action

Knowledge creation and sharing is not enough. Leaders from academia and organisations emphasised the need to do more to turn knowledge into meaningful action that can deliver health gains across societies. As communicators, we can help facilitate this change. By working hand-in-hand with academics and researchers, we can help them turn complex information into compelling, accessible content that calls people to action. We can also help them to amplify their innovations — there were so many promising ones showcased at the Forum — so that they can reach the marketplace and deliver on their potential.

Interested in joining a network for global health communicators?

The rallying cry at the Forum was #OneHealth – the idea that we all need to come together across disciplines and sectors to create a healthier world. At Infinity Communications, we make this multisector approach a centrepiece of our campaigns, bringing together a chorus of diverse voices to make change that lasts.

There was some exciting talk about creating a network for communicators to keep the conversation about global health and #OneHealth going. We’re here for it and want to hear from you if you are too!

Thanks to the Geneva Health Forum, Geneva University Hospitals and the University of Geneva for making this Forum happen. Together, the possibilities for a better health future are truly infinite.